“He’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a person,” says Donika Shala of her now husband Roberto Menendez. She’s known since their marathon of a first date—bursting with stories about travel and culture—that she’d found her match.
“I was like, ‘Wow this is a different person than I’d ever met before.’ It helps that he’s from a background and family structure that’s similar to mine,” says Donika, who’s originally from Kosovo, while Roberto’s family is from El Salvador. “Everyone else before wasn’t like me. People say opposites attract, but I would disagree with that to some degree.”
Their love of seeing the world and experiencing it like locals—as well as a shared appreciation for packing light—made for a relationship full of adventure, solidified by a trip to visit Roberto’s family in El Salvador. Thanks to much dedication to her Duolingo app, Donika learned enough Spanish to win over his grandmother—and the rest was history.
When it came time to make it official, the couple wanted to make sure their Halifax wedding represented their families’ history and culture, and after saying “I do” at St. Mary’s Basilica they celebrated in style at Pier 21.
“It was no coincidence that we picked the immigration museum as our venue, it was a little nudge-nudge wink-wink that we’re both immigrants or from families of immigrants, and that was very important for us to show our friends—day to day that’s hard to do,” says Donika. Performances from tango and Albanian dancers in traditional costume made the night even more personal for the pair of kindred spirits. “We picked that venue because it represented a history of immigration and life betterment in Canada, and perseverance.
“It was everything I wanted.”
Dress: Chester and Felicity
Decor: The Wedding Vogue
Cake: Cravings Halifax
Caterer: RCR Hospitality Group
Hair: Natasha Riche, HS Studios
Makeup: Kayla George
Accessories: House of Moda
DJ/Music: DJ Skills, True North DJs
Photographer: Ash + Rich, Applehead Studio Photography
Videographer: John McKoy
Wedding Planner: Claudia Habib, Simply Weddings
Wedding Venue: St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica
Reception: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Flowers: Blossom Shops
Favours: Polaroid pictures by Halifax Photobooth